May 19, 1998
The Administration strongly supports the objective of H.R. 3809, which is
to increase efforts by the U.S. Customs Service to reduce the entry of
illicit narcotics into the United States. The Administration opposes,
however, certain provisions of H.R. 3809. While increased personnel
flexibility has proved useful at certain ports and may be needed elsewhere,
the provision that would permit the Customs Commissioner to override
collective bargaining agreements in certain situations is inconsistent with
the Administration's commitment to labor-management partnerships. In
addition, at this time the Administration opposes the inclusion in H.R.
3809 of provisions that would amend the annual cap on overtime pay for
Customs inspectors. These provisions should be considered in the context
of achieving overall consistency in pay, including overtime and its
treatment for retirement purposes, between the Customs Service and
similarly situated Federal Inspection Service agencies.
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to: (1) address the concerns noted above; (2) conform the authorization levels to those in the President's Budget; and (3) provide for greater flexibility in the allocation of resources and the selection of technologies.